May 4, 2016
Healthier Somerset is building upon the successes and lessons learned from our 2015 ShapingNJ grant that focused on nutrition through the purchase of healthy foods at farmers markets and increased physical activity through the expansion of “Complete Streets” in Somerset County municipalities. In this two-year partnership with New Jersey Healthy Communities Network, we will expand those activities to three more Somerset County municipalities — Bridgewater, Green Brook, and North Plainfield.
Our partners in this effort are the Bridgewater Health Department; Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission; Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease Coalition; New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset; and Somerset County Department of Health. We are also working closely with municipal and county elected officials, administrators, and planners.
We chose to focus on these municipalities because they are contiguous communities (along Route 22), yet they offer three distinctly different types of communities. North Plainfield, with a large walkable downtown, is the most urban of the three. Green Brook is divided by Route 22 and contains separate neighborhoods, with some offering sidewalks and walkable communities while others are in more suburban neighborhoods. Bridgewater is one of Somerset County’s largest municipalities and contains many distinctive separate neighborhoods but no central downtown.
Only North Plainfield currently offers a farmers market, and team members have begun discussions in Bridgewater and Green Brook to put farmers markets in place. We are focusing on 2017 for these programs. We are currently scouting locations for the nutrition programs that will be offered and contacting vendors in the North Plainfield farmers market for participation in our program this year.
Similarly, our efforts to encourage the three towns to adopt “Complete Streets” resolutions have begun with discussions with local and county health and planning officials. All have expressed interest, and we believe that the county support for the program will be helpful.